The audience clapped as my colleague finished his talk. I took a few deep breaths and waited to be called. “Chloe Nunn is a sustainability scientist and will talk to us about community resilience in Greenland….Welcome Chloe” Claire McNulty, director of National Geographic Europe introduced me as I took the stage. Somehow my 3 minutes in front of the audience managed to fly by and last forever at the same time. The latter feeling may have been enhanced by an unintended pause in the middle of my talk, which felt like it lasted for eternity. The blank my brain drew in that moment was gone the next, when I looked over to my peers and saw them smiling encouragingly at me; I was off again.
I didn’t want to forget my words on stage, but I impressed myself with my ability to recover and hopefully scraped by with what appeared to be a dramatic ‘pause for effect’. This was the culmination to a four-day ScienceTelling bootcamp held in Munich, which I had the pleasure of attending. Inspired and fascinated by the National Geographic Explorers, every attendee motivated me to continue pursuing my passions and share them with others. We bonded over the hurdle that was a three-minute lightning pitch to an audience of national Geographic Partners, prospective grantees, and seasoned Explorers. You could say we all escaped unscathed by the experience, but actually it had a profound impact on us all, in a good way!
The workshop had somewhat of a ‘thrown in at the deep end’ feel about it as we practised our talks and received critical, but excellent feedback from strangers we’d met a few hours before. It was in fact, a great way to get to know everyone and their work. From bird’s eye view documentaries about migration, to jellyfish neurology, we covered an enormous range of topics. Not only did I learn about whale song transmission across oceans, but I also discovered that the way in which I apply photography and videography skills is very different to that of a sea-bird ecologist.
‘You get out what you put in’ is a very apt phrase to describe the level of hard-work required for the course. I love learning about people and how our lives are similar and different, but approaching someone with whom I know very little and have no previously established connection with, terrified(s) me. One aspect of my research fieldwork which disappointed me was my lack of dedication to photographing the people I had the pleasure of getting to know, and I was in Munich to fix that. While I still have some learning to do in that area, my confidence was boosted after I had a very fulfilling conversation with a couple who run a flower stall in the centre of the old city and allowed me to photograph them at work.
My videography assignment is still a work in progress. Let’s just say technology has not been on my side, but I hope to share that soon as another window into the world that was the Munich ScienceTelling Bootcamp 2019. I’m excited to implement my new and improved communication skills across all aspects of my life. More importantly though, I hope that the people I met last week know how much the supportive and collaborative environment we created together, means to me.